Gippslandia #4 - Community Art - (f)route

Your guide to community art.

Andrea Lane and the F.INC Team from East Gippsland present you with a guide to creating viable, thrivable and survivable community art.

Here’s to the collaborators, the instigators and relentless creators.
Here’s to the canvas dwellers, eccentric market sellers and bombastic storytellers.
Here’s to the mandala makers, so not fakers and flexible awakeners.
Here’s to the musicians, technical physicians and loss of inhibitions.
Here’s to the W’s, the front runners and far out hipster mothers.
Here’s to the beginners, the rope swingers, tomorrows winners.
Here’s to the dress ups, the tofu toasters and Nic. wine boasters.
Here’s to the energy reducers, cycling blenders and future trenders.
Here’s to the constructionists, mainstream disruptionists, totally at one with this.
Here’s to the midnight ravers, the all-night cravers, the outrageous behaviours.
And (f)inally….here’s to the kind-hearted, warm-spirited, (f)route derivatives.
— Tales From Frouteville, 2016 by Ben Marchbank.

Gippslandia #4 - Community Art - (f)route

Photograph by Shelly Nundra.

Here in the Far East, for the last 10 years or so, there’s been a growing ‘F’ movement in the community arts scene – one that’s been forging a relentlessly optimistic niche in the regional arts fortress.

It all began with the (f)route project (pronounced fruit). Initiated by a mere drop of Australia Council arts funding, it was allocated to figure out what was going wrong in the east. A younger, greener voice came to tell us of their dreams for saving the planet with art, music, community and sheer creative dedication.

Gippslandia #4 - Community Art - (f)route

Photograph by Shelly Nundra.

Then we progressed to sharing fruity breakfasts and good ideas with the locals in wild places, building (f)route CARTs and mapping the region with (f)route CARTographers. Inspired and mentored by the likes of MAKESHIFT, we created a curatorium of artists and thinkers, and it became a thing. We were seeking that sweet spot, where authentic stories of place and culture, meet contemporary and socially engaged art.

In the end, we think we’ve found it. With no rules and no grand plan, other than a half-formed and wildly ‘organic’ drive to tell the story of a much more creative region than anyone else could see. While local decision makers gazed longingly at ‘better stuff’ down the highway, the rest of the state was gazing longingly back at (f)route with its new, kinda-socially-fascinating-art, driven by an obscenely multidisciplinary approach to undertake affordable, doable and experiential art in East Gippsland. This annoying, wandering, mostly invisible, almost secret, ‘F’ society gathered and grew. And grew. While no one was paying attention.

Galvanized by cultural neglect and driven by a burning belief in art, enterprise and environmental stewardship — F.INC East Gippsland Inc was born and is now the local go-to organisation for regional arts input from the east.

Over the years, we’ve tried, succeeded and occasionally fizzled at some brilliant things. The 12-month stint in Melbourne at RENEW Docklands as FROUTELAND, an artist-made travel bureau developing art tours to Morocco, France and Swifts Creek; graduating from the fabulous/exhausting Social Traders CRUNCH program to develop a business plan for Art Camp ‘glamping’ in the (f)route POD; a funded f.incubator nurturing emerging creatives and of course the five annual celebrations of F @ FROUTEVILLE (Save the date for 3 March 2018). And, well, in the end we’ve attracted and delivered on about a million dollars worth of arts funding. We are no longer invisible. In fact, we have entered the vernacular.

See: finc.org.au, float3909.com, facebook.com/FLOAT.3909 , froute.com.au, ifoundthefoundry.com and  frouteville.com.

23 (F)’ing tips to kickstart art in your community.

1. Don’t brainstorm your idea at a community meeting in a community hall.

2. Don’t hire a consultant.

3. Don’t do anything you’ve ever seen before – anywhere.

4. Yes, ‘Excellence will be achieved through relevance’.

5. Have a best friend, or two, who will never hear a bad word against you.

6. Don’t do a feasibility study or a business case.

7. Don’t tell the shire unless you have to.

8. Write something sensible in your funding application – then do whatever you want. (It’ll be better).

9. Be surrounded by extraordinary artists who believe in you.

10. Pay attention. Act on all the things you’ve been seeing and hearing around you.

11. Be brave. If things go wrong, change the plan – quickly.

12. Talk about it all the time.

13. No matter what – on the day of the event – SMILE AND BE GENEROUS.

14. Be a team where everyone likes to do different bits, differently (doers, listeners, geeks, dreamers, number crunchers, welcomers, eco gurus, makers, organisers, introverts or extroverts). Expect your comfort zone to be tested and know that everyone of them is necessary.

15. Look after each other. No finger pointing, ever.

16. Ideas are everything. If you don’t enjoy the conversation, the blurting of ideas, the blossoming of some, the fizzling of others (no hard feelings!), then you’re after something else.

17. LOVE the planning. If it’s a chore, you’re also after something else.

18. Ideas are best shared in beautiful places, with food.

19. Don’t be driven by external expectations to be BIGGER AND BETTER.

20. Small, quirky, human, low impact and sustainable are good. In reality, that small performance (that took a year to ‘create’) lives on in perpetuity – in memories, stories, friendships, plans, and fabulous photos.

21. Be a brand. Love the voice, the images and thefonts. Every tiny little detail.

22. Invite wild kids that know their stuff.

23. Remember you have to finish/clean up/pack up — and debrief (with an expert).

Gippslandia #4 - Community Art - (f)route

Comments 3

  1. Great summary and advice. So lucky to live where all this individuality and creative energy is so alive. Swifts Creek has found some kindred spirits and feels so much more connected. Thank you for all the support and genuine interest you have all shown to tiny places and tiny projects as well as the bigger ones!I

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